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CITY TRIBUNE

Spiralling insurance premiums ‘will put us out of business’

Stephen Corrigan

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Insurance call: Eoin McCambridge.

Spiralling insurance premiums will put more small family-owned enterprises out of business unless the Government takes action to tackle fraudulent claims.

That’s according to Eoin McCambridge, a director of the Alliance for Insurance Reform and Managing Director of McCambridge’s of Shop Street, who said inaction over the issue has already closed countless businesses.

Immediate action needs to be taken against insurance fraud, said Mr McCambridge, who together with the Insurance Reform Alliance, is calling for the expedition of establishing the long-awaited Garda Insurance Fraud Unit and a Judicial Council to review guidelines for insurance claims.

“It’s a mixture of things that is driving up the cost. The insurance companies and the legal profession are playing off each other and they’re both creaming it,” said Mr McCambridge.

He explained that his insurance premium has risen dramatically in recent years – doubling every year for three years, and rising by around ten per cent for the past two years.

As a result, the premium for McCambridge’s Shop Street premises was €125,000 this year – and he said they’re left with no option but to pay it.

Recently, a number of large businesses, including Galway man Pat McDonagh’s Supermac’s, have opted to “self-insure” – and are fighting back against what they believe are spurious personal injury claims being made against them.

And while Mr McCambridge said this was to be welcomed, it wasn’t an option for smaller firms, adding that if it’s not an option for his business in the centre of Galway City, then it’s certainly not something family businesses out the county could countenance.

“Small businesses, family businesses – and sports clubs, voluntary organisations and charities – they can’t do that.

“We’re basically stuck with the insurance companies – and in some cases, like with children’s play centres, there is only one insurance company that will insure them,” said Mr McCambridge, adding “it’s basically a cartel”.

Insurance companies, he said, were settling too soon with injury claims that were less than convincing, instead of going through the Personal Injury Assessment Board (PIAB).

This was because there was less to be made for the legal profession by going through PIAB.

“I have no issue, if it’s a genuine claim, paying someone’s medical costs, but in one case, we had a claim against us from someone who didn’t have any loss of earnings and they were granted €28,000 for lost earnings and there were €16,000 in fees.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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CITY TRIBUNE

City Council’s conference call ‘eavesdropper’

Dara Bradley

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Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column by Dara Bradley

Galway City Council, like the rest of us, is adapting to the new reality of life under Covid-19 restrictions.

There haven’t been any face-to-face City Council meetings, be they full meetings or committee meetings, since the crisis really hit.

But that doesn’t mean elected members and management are twiddling their thumbs. Far from it – they’re busier than ever, just a different sort of busy.

Last Wednesday evening, city councillors held a conference call with Chief Executive Brendan McGrath.

Members of his management team were also involved in the meeting, which was conducted using technology that allows people to ‘attend’ a meeting online from the comfort of their own homes.

Each member is invited to the virtual meeting through a link sent to their email account. They click into this and then they are ‘in’ the meeting and can speak and see the others, also attending remotely.

A reliable deep-throat who participated in Wednesday’s chat informs us that the meeting had to be stopped – at the behest of McGrath – and restarted, over fears someone was eavesdropping.

The suspicion is that the link to join the meeting was sent to someone it shouldn’t have been, and this person attempted to listen in.

“Brendan halted the meeting and we had to hang up and start again because a mystery man was listening-in on the teleconference. It was hacked but Brendan has the number and can find out who it was,” said one source.

If the standard of debate at the tele-conference was anything like some of the drivel you can get at some ordinary Council meetings, then the conference-blocked hacker didn’t miss much!

For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune

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CITY TRIBUNE

Salthill’s ‘Heart of Hope’ a beacon of light for frontline workers

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A giant illuminated heart has been erected on the Big Wheel at Curry’s Funpark in Leisureland as a poignant symbol of hope and expression of gratitude for the country’s healthcare workers.

Last month, preparations got underway to set up the fun fair, but it became yet another casualty of Covid-19. Owner Owen Curry got to work on constructing a blue ‘Heart of Hope, An Croí Gorm’ with LED lights to attach to the 120-foot wheel overlooking the Prom.

Together with his crew, and respecting the rules of social distancing, he had the heart in place on the axle of the Big Wheel within a day.

“I wanted to do something, to say to the doctors, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and everybody working in the health service how grateful we are for their incredible dedication and courage in the current crisis.

“When the other lights on the Big Wheel are switched off, the heart emits a glow and appears to float in mid air over the Prom,” he said.

Without advertising revenue and people buying the paper, this website would not be here. To buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95, click HERE. Thanks for your support.

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CITY TRIBUNE

ICU consultant reveals intensive planning ahead of peak Covid demand

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A consultant in critical care at Galway’s biggest hospital has assured the public that there is still significant capacity for very ill patients fighting Covid-19.

But to help University Hospital Galway best cope with the expected surge in numbers within the next two weeks, Consultant Intensivist John Bates has pleaded with the public to follow the strict public health guidelines about staying at home.

“There’s been a lot going on – a lot of retraining, a lot of redeployment, a lot of up-equipping. We normally have twelve ventilator beds and we’re up to 24 at this stage and have significant capacity. We’re working to get beyond that but we certainly have capacity at the moment,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Asked if the hospital would be able to cope with the peak of the pandemic – tipped to hit in the next fortnight – he said there were no guarantees.

“It depends on the size of the surge. We can’t say for sure how big the surge will be. It’s a new disease and models of how it will go are different – in some we will be okay and others we will struggle,” Dr Bates said.

“The curve appears to be flattening. Dublin is starting to come under pressure accessing critical care beds. It’s likely we will at some stage here too. But we have good capacity at this stage.”

The number of healthcare workers who will likely be affected by the pandemic has been factored into the hospital’s readiness plans. In China, ten per cent of critical care staff were out of action while in Italy it has reached 20 per cent.

Despite the high risks facing hospital staff, Dr Bates believes morale at UHG is good.

This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Please remember that without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thanks for your support!

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